Saturday, May 12, 2007

INNOCENT: Baker’s “Money Graf”

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

Some bloggers use the term “money graf” to ID what they think is a document’s most important paragraph.

After reading Durham City Manager Patrick Baker’s May 11, 2007 memo to Mayor Bill Bell and the Durham City Council, what I’d wanted to pick as my “money graf” isn’t in Baker’s memo.

My “money graf” would have begun with an admission DPD had a great deal of exculpatory evidence early on in the case, including the results of the first round of DNA testing which came back negative and the second dancer’s March 20, 2006 signed statement that Crystal Mangum’s story was “a crock.”

That would have been followed by this sentence:

“After taking careful measurements of what is a very small bathroom, DPD investigators concluded Crystal Mangum and the three young men could not all have fit in the bathroom at the same time and had room to even brush their teeth, much less engage in activities the Raleigh News & Observer said constituted a night of ‘sexual violence.’”
The next sentence would have explained why DPD spokesperson Cpl. David Addison repeatedly told the public and media about “this horrific crime” when, as Attorney General Cooper and the Special Prosecutors found, there never was any real evidence of a crime. At the end of that sentence there would have been a number citing a footnote which discussed slander and libel case law as it pertains to individual officers and police departments in North Carolina.

Baker would have followed that sentence with one explaining why Addison sent DPD substations, media and others the text of the Durham CS “Wanted” poster.

That would have been followed by sentences explaining why a cab driver was arrested on a three year old shoplifting warrant, why he had to post bail, and why DPD never explained why two DPD officers went over to the courthouse and sat through his trial.

Then Baker would have begun explaining what evidence of a crime two DPD investigators discovered on their trips to the DNA lab in Burlington, and during their attendance at meetings involving DA Mike Nifong and lab director Brian Meehan.

And then, etc, etc, ….

You can see it would have been a very, very lengthy “graf.” Maybe that’s why Baker didn’t include it.

Anyway, I looked through Baker’s memo to pick out what is my second choice "money graf.”

It’s the second paragraph in Baker’s memo:
At the outset, let me acknowledge the City’s concurrence with Attorney General Roy Cooper’s decision to dismiss all of the charges against Evans, Seligmann and Finnerty as well as his declaration that these young men are innocent of the charges for which they were indicted. While the criminal proceedings against them have ended, a true and measured analysis and critique of their tortured path to justice is just beginning.
I picked that ‘graf” for three reasons:

1) In the first sentence Baker does something extremely important: he doesn’t just say, on behalf of the City of Durham, that the charges should have been dropped. He goes out of his way to explicitly state Durham’s concurrence with Attorney General Cooper’s “declaration that these young men are innocent of the charges for which they were indicted.”

Durham City’s concurrence in the innocence of David Evans, Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty may now be some comfort to them and their families. It will certainly be useful in the future when the three young men and their supporters are compelled to refute the slanders that will inevitably come their way.

It will also be very useful in another way: “Innocent” sets a kind of “floor” for the law suits that are to come.

Durham City can’t argue “who really knew or knows.” Durham has effectively agreed with the Attorney General that they were innocent from the start and there was no cause to indict.

Evans, Seligmann and Finnerty have a very strong case against Durham City/DPD unless Baker can convince the courts “it was all Nifong’s fault.” But that’s down the road a ways.

2) The second and last sentence in the paragraph is a piece of wisdom with which we should all agree :
While the criminal proceedings against them have ended, a true and measured analysis and critique of their tortured path to justice is just beginning.
Does anyone doubt that “a true and measured analysis and critique of their tortured path to justice is just beginning?”

We’re still waiting for the state and federal investigations that should reveal most of what Baker tried so hard today to cover up. We haven’t yet had the civil suits, either.

In that one sentence about the “tortured path to justice,” Baker gave us wisdom in an otherwise shameless document that blamed victims and their helpers while excusing the victimizers.

Baker’s wisdom was unintentional, but it’s wisdom none the less.

3) All the other "grafs" were abominations.

I picked my “money graf” from a City Manager’s memo that isn’t worth a plugged nickel. Even Mayor Bell and the City Council may have trouble buying it.

Thank you Liestoppers for “flipping” Baker’s memo from pdf form. It’s too bad you couldn’t “flip” it into truth form.


Anonymous said...

Although this case begs for Federal intervention, especially now, I don't believe anyone in the Department of Justice has the balls, brains, or the integrity to pursue charges against Baker, Chalmers, Nifong, and their enablers. Sadly, our two US Senators have remained carefully quiet when they should have been voicing their concerns over the blatant violations of civil rights of the three former Duke Lax players and their families.

Anonymous said...

7:13 is on target. The only leader in our group of distinguished NC state and congressional leaders has turned out to be Cooper. Way to go Roy!! Way to stand up and lead while others cower in the corner, afraid to do what they were elected to do.

You have earned my vote in the future for being a stand-up and effective leader.

Ex-prosecutor said...

In reading through the report, I had skimmed over some of the passages highlighted in this post.

The language and phrasing is not that of any police officer I've ever met. It looks like it was written by a frustrated romance novelist who went to law school.

The word turgid comes to mind.